Welcome back to our conversation. In part 1, we considered how Return on Time and Return on Value can give a unique perspective on how we approach meetings. Read that article here.
Now we can begin to get even more practical about how we’re going to make meetings more effective. Let’s start by defining at least 3 different types of meetings, and see what the desired expectations are for those conversations, and what needs to happen to ensure those results.
I want to invite we look at, as examples:
An all-hands team meeting
A weekly stand-up meeting
A 1-on-1 networking meeting
Let’s consider an all-hands team meeting consisting of 5 teams of 4 people. The first question we need to ask is: What’s the point, and how do we make that clear to everyone else?
This is what we know as the agenda. It takes good reason to put together an all-hands, and it takes time to prepare an agenda. So, what are the reasons, and how long will it take to put together an agenda that shares those reasons to the entire group of 20? Put another way:
What does everyone need to know in order to do what they need to do next?
Given an all-hands meeting is likely meant to share big news, that big news needs to then stir in everyone a moment to
A: Stop and think about how this information is going to impact what they do next, and;
B: Provide them a space to ask questions which will help them clarify what they do next, but only when;
C: Upon asking those questions, other people will chime in requesting further information of clarification.
For the person who’s putting together the agenda, they don’t have to think about all the details that everyone may ask in the crossfire of questions - but what they may want to provide is a point in time for the meeting where every team gets to summarize the clarity they have on their role and everyone else’s. And so, how long should it take to write out this agenda?
15 minutes - which includes emailing/slacking out the message to everyone.
All you need to do is define the time for the all-hands, then split that time accordingly so that 1st a summary of any helpful information shared beforehand is surfaced, followed by time for questions from everyone, followed by time to respond to those questions, then ended by a summary from every team that they get what’s going on and what they’re going to do next.
The main takeaways from this example:
Everyone gets important information before the meeting. Then at the meeting everyone can discuss the information with the intention to have clarity on what they need to do next.
Let’s look at a weekly stand-up.
5 minutes of “what did everyone do this weekend?” - build rapport
1 minute each team member regarding what they’re doing this week.
1 minute each team member to ask questions about anything they need help with.
For a team of 4, that barely breaks 15 minutes with time to hop in and out of whatever conference room is used.
Again: What does everyone NEED to know?
Finally, I want to share an external type of meeting: networking 1-on-1. What’s the agenda there? Well, what would you like to take away from meeting with someone? Perhaps:
You want to know more about their business and how they add value?
You want to know more about who this person is serving and how?
You want to know more about whether there is anyone you can connect them with?
Rapport-building conversation and contact info swapping aside, it takes no more than 10 minutes (5 minutes each) for two people to share the necessary information. All it takes to steer the conversation to this is a set of questions, and a willingness to follow those asks.
To make things even more valuable, it helps to have your CRM or contact list handy so when a person says “Here’s who I’m looking for…” you can immediately begin scrolling through your database of people you know. And if you want to continue the conversation…
Just set a follow up meeting afterwards.
Look, the costs to not thinking about how your meetings can be run better appear just as stark as all the benefits of doing so. Good meetings just mean good, healthy communication. Healthy communication just means effective, clear, safe, and warm conversation with well documented calls to action for all involved, even if the call to action is just to stay the course or do nothing.
Without painting too much of an ugly picture, poor meetings can set the tone for disgruntled team members, which lead to all sorts of business problems. From workflow obstacles being left unaddressed, to business being lost and quality talent quitting on account of better opportunities. In the end, no one wants to be in bad meetings, so, take the time to fix them.
Hire someone to help you do it. From a time management perspective, it may likely be better worth your while to have that training come to you…